ATM fraud a biggie in Cape Town CBD over festive season


ATM fraud is one of Cape Town Central Business District's thorniest problems over the festive period, says Muneeb "Mo" Hendricks, manager of safety and security at the Cape Town Central City Improvement District.

The CCID is a public-private partnership, established in November 2000 by local property owners to combat a "crime and grime" scenario and establish a safe, clean urban environment.

The CCID is aware of about seven incidents of ATM fraud taking place in the CBD weekly, on average.

Hendricks also says large numbers of tourists are falling victim to fraudsters.

"Fraudsters approach tourists and tell them they need a permit to walk in the street and fabricate a story such as there is a protest or film shoot up ahead. They tell the tourists that the permit is free and can be obtained at an ATM," says Hendricks.

"They lead the tourists to the ATM, obtain their PIN, swap their card and then transfer or withdraw huge amounts of cash even before the tourists can call the bank to cancel the card. We have noted that fraudsters are even taking tourists to the new ATM self-ordering machines in place at McDonalds outlets."


In response, the ATM Fraud Project has been launched, funded by the Western Cape Government Department of Community Safety (DOCS). Students from the Chrysalis Academy are deployed to monitor ATM hotspots in the CBD during certain times of the day and educate tourists.

Other interventions include the annual "Stash it, don’t flash it" campaign, which will, this year, see over 30 000 flyers distributed, as well as the deployment of tourism monitors in the CBD to promote tourism and educate tourists.

Don't get caught

Hendricks and Lee-Anne van Zyl, CEO of FNB Points of Presence, provide these 10 ATM safety tips:

1. Keep your secrets: Always keep your ATM PIN confidential and never share with anyone or write it down.

2. Be wary: Stand as close as possible to the ATM and never let anyone stand close or distract you whilst transacting. Only use ATMS in well-lit and safe places, and ignore people who insist you need a permit to walk around in the CBD.

3. Protect your space: When transacting, cover the keypad with your hand - scammers can place cameras to record your PIN as you punch it in.

4. Double-check: Do not enter your PIN on a screen that is unfamiliar to you. Carefully read the instruction on the ATM screen before entering your PIN.

5. Stash your cash: Once cash has been withdrawn, immediately place this out of sight. Avoid handling cash in public view and secure your wallet and handbag before leaving the ATM.

6. Set limits: Set a realistic daily limit on your banking to protect yourself, should your details be compromised and check your statements regularly and report suspicious transactions immediately. Rather use your debit card for purchases.

7. Don't trust strangers: Be wary of strangers that may call you back to the ATM to complete a transaction. They often ask for assistance or offer to assist you. Don't accept help from strangers or disclose your PIN, not even to persons claiming to be bank officials, and don't allow your card to be removed from your sight.

8. Protect your card: Never force your card into the ATM – if the card is not easily accepted by the device, it may have been tampered with by criminals and never use an ATM if it looks faulty or show evidence of tampering. Never leave your card in the ATM. If it gets stuck or swallowed, follow instructions on the ATM.

9. Monitor social media: Do not post images of your cash on social media, you might not know who is following you.

10. Trust the bank: If you forgot your bank card, you can always use the safe and secured cardless cash withdrawals at the ATM.

* Compiled by Carin Smith

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